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Responses to policy concerns, and a note from Chad

Thank you to everyone in the community who has taken time this week to share your thoughts, concerns, questions and ideas with us in regard to our policies for the marketplace.

We've just published a post from Etsy's CEO, Chad Dickerson, on the Etsy News blog about the events of this week. You can read the post on the blog: www.etsy.com/blog/news/2012/notes-from-chad-6/

As an addendum to Chad's note, and in response to some of the posts I've seen from community members in the past two days, I'd like to add:

We are indeed listening and following the various conversations in the community about these issues. This is deeply important to us, too. As I noted in 'The "Who" of Handmade' thread earlier today, I wish I'd been available to personally respond in real-time to your questions and comments. I'm taking time today to catch up, and I will respond to the questions about our policies that I can answer. Thank you for your patience.

18 Highlighted Responses

Please avoid discussing another member or shop specifically in this thread. As Chad noted in his post, we've provided as many details on the specific situation that we can publicly provide, and we have an obligation to respect the privacy of ALL members. We also ask that everyone be mindful of our rules for community conduct: www.etsy.com/policy/dosdonts#thecommunity

This thread is for discussion of Etsy's marketplace policies in general, not how they apply to specific shops or members.
Juliet Gorman avatar Admin
Just wanted to jump in with a very quick clarification. Eva from LadyArtisan made a good point when she said about product changes, "I didn't read it that way so much as Etsy setting up a way for people to share more details about their process, etc. (like the studio/workshop gallery idea that people have been tossing around here the past few days)."

That's exactly the right kind of idea. When we say "product changes," we mean changes to the site features on Etsy.com, not our policy. Sorry if it wasn't clear. Eva is just right when she says it's all about giving you guys better tools to tell the story behind your shop, your items, and who you are.
LaECLECTICa said on page 14: "Sounds to me that Chad is saying that the policies clarity we are looking for is not available yet, but that they are working on that as we speak."

Yes. As Chad noted in his post, we've been working behind the scenes to review and clarify our marketplace policies, as well as develop tools for shops to tell their stories in a more transparent way. This process will take some time to get just right.

These are not easy issues to sort out, and we are being carefully considerate of how the decisions we make will shape the future of Etsy. As Chad said, "Etsy has always been about the human element in commerce, and always will be." We want to make sure of that.
Julie Meyer says on page 18: "Yes or No: Can I buy brand new items that are not vintage or supplies and not made by me and sell them here as long as I name the people that did make them?"

No. This is not allowed under Etsy's current marketplace criteria. In fact, this is the exact definition of a reseller.

Items in Etsy's handmade categories need to be made by the shop that is listing the products on Etsy. But, that doesn't mean the items are necessarily made by only one person.

Some shops may have multiple people within the business that help make items. Those people need to be in the same location. (This is the current "collectives" policy.)

Some shops may have *limited* help from an outside resource to make items, but the shop needs to do the majority share of the work to create the items and ship them. (This is the current "production assistance" policy.)
Cindy from cindylouwho2 said on page 34: (regarding location restrictions for collective shops)

"does this mean that family members living in 2 different states can no longer be a collective? Or if I want to have a collective shop with someone in Edmonton, they have to drive here & do their work in my condo? What about individuals who are not in collectives but live in 2 different countries through the year? (studens come to mind) My household situation is only a few years from having two homes, & because of this, I now file tax returns in California even though I have never lived there & I am not American

Not in anyway trying to be snarky, just trying to clarify. Because there have been many shops here that work in more than one location, including people that are not collectives."


------

You make excellent points, Cindy. That is exactly the type of complexity we are working through in reviewing our current marketplace standards. We want to have a platform that enables and empowers creative businesses to grow without putting bizarre limitations on their individual business plans.

But we also need to strike a balance by creating rules and a site experience that maintains the values we want to uphold. We're working on it.
Hi all- I just wanted to let you know that I'm still following this thread. There are several posts here and in the other thread (The "Who" of Handmade) that I'd like to address. I just need to take a bit of a break for a while, though I'll be back later to dig in again.
I'm still catching up with all the posts made overnight. I wanted to chime in quick on one thing I'm seeing fairly often. I'm seeing that there's still significant confusion about what we allow to be listed in the marketplace.

I recognize that there are several rules governing the definition of handmade on Etsy, and it can sometimes be tricky to parse exactly how something fits (or doesn't fit) into that definition. The rules all work together in a system; they are not mutually exclusive.

Below I'll try to break it down a bit, as a paraphrase of what's contained in the DOs & DON'Ts. Please let me know if this is helpful.




Shops in general --

May consist of one person or multiple people within the same business.

Multiple people within the shop can work together collaboratively to create items, or they can each individually create items to be sold in the same shop.

If there are multiple people within the business collaboratively making items together, they should be working in the same location.

A shop may additionally or alternatively use an outside vendor (that is, a person or another business NOT within the Etsy shop's own business) for limited help.

All shops are encouraged (and in some cases required) to tell the story of the people and the business. This enhances the experience for shoppers of knowing you're buying from real people, a core element of what makes Etsy special.


Handmade categories --

Made by one person or multiple people within the shop, from raw materials. (Example: a sweater knit from hand dyed, handspun yarn produced from the seller's own sheep.)

Made by one person or multiple people within the shop, from purchased, commercial supplies. Can be as simple as joining two components together, or as complex as the imagination allows. (Example: a necklace made from commercially available beads and chain.)

Made by one person or multiple people within the shop, by altering or embellishing the surface or structure of a purchased, commercial, finished item. (Example: a commercially purchased blank t-shirt screen-printed with original artwork.)

Made by one person or multiple people within the shop, with limited additional help from an outside vendor. (Example: a photographer who has their images printed by a commercial printing company.)

NOTE: The above scenarios are not mutually exclusive; it's possible that a shop can use a combination of purchased commercial components and the limited help of a third-party vendor. (Example: a jewelry maker has a vendor create a custom-designed glass bead for them, which the jewelry maker then combines with other commercially purchased beads and chain to create a necklace.)



And then just for the sake of completeness, here are the rules for our other two categories of items:


Vintage category --

Vintage goods, as long as the items are at least 20 years old.



Supplies category--

Crafting supplies made by one person or multiple people within the shop (see handmade above).

Purchased (commercial) crafting supplies.
I cannot give you any information or answers about another member's account or shop. Chad made it clear in his post that we've said all we can publicly on that matter. Please stop asking me about a specific shop.

I am here to discuss Etsy's policies in general with you all. I'm willing to continue answering questions from the community, and listening to your concerns. I appreciate the constructive participation of so many members in these conversations this week. It's extremely important to me that we at Etsy understand the points of confusion so that we can ensure we make these things more clear in the future, as we review and revise the DOs & DON'Ts in the upcoming months.

Also, to set expectations: I'm soon going to have to turn my attention away from these threads (as valuable as this feedback is to me, these threads are also getting repetitive to some extent) and focus on helping create the actual solutions that you all are seeking -- clearer policies, a more accurately defined concept of Etsy, and tools that support those policies and our values. So, to that point, I will be in the Forums for just a few more hours today, and hope to answer more questions in that time.

Thanks again to everyone that has contributed, and shared your concerns and ideas.
Rabbittude said on page 134: "If Etsy is allowing collectives and businesses with different business models and wants to find ways to be certain that these are clearly and accurately portrayed, once again I ask, why are businesses / partnerships that are legally established with legal business names not allowed to clearly show that?"

That's a great point. The full name field is part of your personal profile on Etsy -- you as a person. That's why it's not meant as a place for shop owners to put their business name.

Now, that said, we are working on tools to help shops tell more of their story and be more transparent about their businesses. I'm going to make sure this suggestion gets back to the team working on that project. Thanks!
TheBargainBabe said on page 135:

"Question---I understand that I could not order an item from Ikea, put it together, and then sell it here. Right?
[…]
---Lastly, if the above answer is "no".....I could though buy and assemble, say, an Ikea desk, PAINT IT PURPLE and then sell it. Because I "designed" it and "altered" it..it would fit the charm on a chain technicality, right? "

----

I referenced this "made from a kit" issue, as well as hand-altered items, in this blog post from March: www.etsy.com/blog/news/2012/defining-handmade-on-etsy/

It is NOT acceptable for a seller to simply assemble parts from a kit and sell it as their handmade item on Etsy.

However, it IS acceptable for a seller to hand-alter or embellish the surface or physical structure of a finished, purchased item, and sell the resulting creation on Etsy as handmade.

So in your example, if you buy an IKEA desk & assemble it as designed by IKEA -- that's not OK for Etsy. However, if you then paint the surface of the desk or otherwise embellish it or alter it, then that would be acceptable on Etsy.
Denise from Iktomi said on page 135: "Lauren, it would be nice to know if the 'should be's' in your rules are 'must be's' or not."

That is an excellent piece of feedback, Denise. Duly noted. We will work on making the expectations and requirements more clear as we revise the DOs & DON'Ts.
PrettyWearJewelry said on page 136: "So is it ok to have the business name in the profile or not? Would really like to know."

We do encourage shop owners currently to put information about themselves and their businesses on the personal profile page, because we are admittedly lacking a better place for you to tell the story of your shop. We're working on tools to provide a better space for this info about your business, which will in turn allow your personal profile to be just about you as an individual.

There are multiple ways for identity to be represented on Etsy -- your username (personal to you, but may also be the same as your shop name), your full name (also personal to you) and your shop name (to represent your business). This post from the Help site should provide more clarity on these different fields: www.etsy.com/help/article/1295
Pamela Thompson from HelpandHold said on page 136: "Is it okay to sell an item here on Etsy that you made by hand, if you also sell that same item on another venue, but the items that you sell on the other venue were made in a factory and/or mass produced?"

We are primarily concerned with the items being listed in our marketplace, and ensuring that those particular items qualify to be sold here. If the items being sold on Etsy comply with Etsy's policies, that's what matters to us.
Lucy from hissyfitoly said on page 137: "Lauren: a (respectful) suggestion: please find a better word (or multiple words) than "collectives" to describe shops owned/operated/encompassing more than one person. IMO, the misleading use of this term has caused quite a bit of confusion."

Lucy, I wholeheartedly agree. I am personally advocating for the retirement of that word from the Etsy vocabulary.
irradient said on page 138: "Hi Lauren - what if a shop has three owners? How do they show that in their "real name" input vs business name, as there's only room for one first and last name?"

This is a really good question.

We do currently allow shops that involve a very small number of people (like 2 or 3) to use the full name field to represent the names of those people behind the shop. It's not a great solution, though, because it doesn't play nicely with how full names get displayed across the site (where sometimes it's shown as just first name, and sometimes first & last). That full name field is truly intended to be specific to the one person who registered the account attached to the shop.

Allowing shops to have a logical place to represent multiple people in the shop is one of many considerations we're looking at right now, with the product changes Chad mentioned.
Kevin Turgeon from krtwood said on page 138:

"There are restrictions in the Do's and Don'ts on what an "assistant" can do for me. I still have to do the majority of the work. So I can't have my assistant build the table for me and then I paint it, because I didn't do the majority of the work. But I can go to Ikea and buy the table and paint it. Now I've done all the work so it's okay.

This does not make any sense.

Then if I call my assistant part of my "collective" then it's okay now, right? What was the point of restricting what my assistant could do?

This does not make any sense.

At the very least, the seller ought to be required to disclose, in the listing itself, not on some other page, that they did not build the table. "

-----

Kevin, you've just surfaced some really insightful points that speak to the complexity of creating rules for our marketplace.

Speaking very frankly for a moment -- I personally agree that this kind of logical inconsistency is weird. (I made a similar response to Cindy from cindylouwho2 earlier in the thread, referring to "bizarre limitations on individual business plans.") While the intention behind each of those rules was meant to help protect the definition of handmade in some way, when the scenarios are compared side-by-side, it shows that it's not easy to build a business that complies with Etsy's marketplace standards and makes sense individually for that shop owner's business plan.

We have been looking at these exact issues very carefully over the past several months internally. We're continuing to work on it until we develop a set of policies and supporting products that make sense for Etsy as a platform to help independent, creative businesses grow and achieve success.
AnyOldTime said on page 139:

"Lauren, can Etsy please update the TOU, dos and don'ts on a regular basis so that we don't have to look for blog posts (ex. The Ikea kit issue) or rely on someone remembering somethign one admin said last year in the forums somewhere?

That would be MOST helpful if clarifications/changes to policy were collected in one place. Thanks."

---

This is another very good point of feedback on communication -- thank you.

We haven't actually changed the rules regarding who can sell or what can be sold since 2009. Though it has become very clear over the course of this week that those 2009 standards were not well understood by the community at large, and I agree that is something we should have worked to correct earlier than now, in a way that provided effective education for members. We're working on it.

To the point about regularly updating the policies -- we actually try to make updates to the rules for the site as little as possible, because we know it can be challenging for members to keep up to date with changes. Policy changes that impact one's ability to sell on our platform are of the utmost importance. These are also some of the more complex issues for us to sort out, to devise a system of rules that really makes sense and upholds the values we hold as a company and a community. We take this stuff very seriously.
Hi everyone-

It's time for me to duck out of this thread. I need to take a little weekend time to refresh so I can start the new week energized and totally focused on helping to create the solutions that you all are seeking (to repeat myself from earlier: clearer policies, a more accurately defined concept of Etsy, and tools that support those policies and our values).

I'm sorry that I didn't have the chance to respond to every good question that came up in this thread or the others on this same subject. I've had some great help from the Forum Mods who've alerted me to insightful posts and questions. Please know that while I may not have had the opportunity to respond publicly to your question, it's very likely become part of the community feedback we're taking into consideration as we move forward with changes.

I very much appreciate all the well-considered posts and constructive comments from you here and in other threads. This kind of insight is invaluable for us.

You can, of course, continue on with the conversation here. But I just wanted to set the expectation that I won't be available to actively participate going forward.

You are of course welcome to send your specific questions to our Support Team as well: www.etsy.com/help/contact

Thank you.

1693 Responses

I love you Etsy. Please don't break my heart.
Sarah Hernandez from AmeliaAndBrother
Changed from ameliasmarket on Apr 15, 2012
says
I love you Etsy. Please don't break my heart.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I'll second that. Off to read.......
ssdd
Off to read.
Thank you for this response Lauren. I haven't yet read the post by Chad, but it's good to hear that you're aware of the strength of feeling so many etsy sellers have surrounding this issue.
I feel no more enlightened than I did before reading.

Other than this

The larger issue here is transparency, and it can be difficult in a marketplace where we have obligations both to the community at large, and to individuals. We’ve been actively working on product changes — starting even before this particular incident — to promote more transparency into the production processes of all Etsy sellers, and to shop businesses as a whole. I’m committed to continuing that work and providing greater transparency, even within the constraints of privacy. I know how much our community cares about preserving what makes Etsy special, and we do, too.
_______

resellers will be allowed but with shop tools they will be identified as such?
I am happy to see there is a response...I've been waiting. Off to read...
off to read ...... with a nice cup of hot chocolate (fair trade or course)
Sarah Hernandez from AmeliaAndBrother says

I love you Etsy. Please don't break my heart.
••••••••••••••••••••

THIS.

Thank you for responding. Off to read.

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